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Entries in Family Justice Review (2)


Family Justice Review: comments from Scotland

Press reports today, such as this story in the Daily Mail, indicate that the Government is leaking the sensitve bits of the Family Justice Review before its publication on Thursday.

It is expected the Family Justice Review will reject both a presumption of shared parenting and a statement in law reinforcing the importance of a child having a relationship with both parents following family breakdown.  

Ken Sanderson, CEO of Families Need Fathers, commented, “If the Family Justice Review Panel has recommended that there should be neither shared parenting legislation nor a statement on the importance of both parents in law, this would represent an abdication of their responsibilities to children and their families."

Ian Maxwell, National Manager of Families Need Fathers Scotland, said, “The Family Justice Review applies only to England and Wales and its reluctance to make an unequivocal statement in favour of 'shared parenting' has deeply disappointed campaigners south of the border.

"In Scotland there are slow but sure signs that the message is getting through to sheriffs and to the professionals involved that children have a right to a good, loving and supportive relationship with both parents after separation. A presumption of shared parenting as the starting point for arrangements after separation will nip many of the expensive and emotionally destructive child contact battles in the bud and be better for the wellbeing of the children involved.”

NOTE: Shared parenting is the term used to cover the desirability of both parents having equal status in the discussion about residence and contact after separation. It does not necessarily mean children literally spend half their time with one parent and half with the other though there are successful examples where that has been the outcome.


Family Justice Review

Although the Family Justice Review (FJR) relates only to England and Wales, the Families Need Fathers response to the FJR interim report includes many points which could also apply to the Scottish system.

On comments from children:

We must be mindful that if children are informed of their options only via a parent (or other subjective party), they could be placed in a position where they feel they must protect the interests or feelings of that person. Attention must always be paid to the burden that children may find themselves placed under, particularly in the often emotionally volatile environment of the court room.

We believe that professionals engaged in recording the children’s wishes and feelings should undergo training to help them identify cases where a parent has coached or manipulated a child to express opinions in a particular adult’s favour.

On mediation:

There must also be a little wisdom regarding mediation, in that if there is no incentive to reach and maintain a reasonable settlement, why should a parent compromise? With so much uncertainty as to outcome, and some parents being bitter, unhappy and at times vengeful, clearer expectations and outcomes from the outset are in reality most likely to reduce applications to court."

and on contact:

Fortnightly visits are simply inadequate to enable a ‘meaningful’ relationship to develop, as it inevitably precludes a child from being able to experience the holistic care of the parent they do not regularly live with.

The intial FNF response to the FJR is also available.